DWP HQ, Caxton House, London. Photo: Paul Billanie for Welfare Weekly.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is facing a legal investigation after a mum of nine took her own life “because the DWP stopped her benefits”, in yet another benefits related suicide case.

Jodey Whiting, who suffered with severely disabling medical conditions, killed herself in February 2017, just a few days after cruel benefit bosses stopped her disability benefit payments after she failed to attend a medical assessment (Work Capability Assessment).

However, her family claims that she never received the appointment letter and is blaming the Government for her suicide.

The 42-year-old grandmother was diagnosed with a brain cyst and curvature of the spine and could barely walk to her own front door, but an inquest heard that despite her obvious disabilities Jodey faced an up-hill battle with the DWP for life-sustaining benefits.

Supported by volunteers from the Citizens Advice Bureau, Jodey appealed the decision but was told that due to a backlog in appeals it could take up to sixteen months before her case is reviewed.

Her mum Joy Dove, who helped her daughter in fighting the DWP for the benefits she was rightly entitled to and has continued the stressful battle with the department following her daughter’s death, told Gazette Live: “To have to wait another 16 months is devastating, but we can’t do anything about the fact there are so many cases that need investigating.

“I’m glad they’ve taken the case on. We will always fight for justice for my daughter.

“She has kids and grandchildren left without a mum, and I’ve been left without a daughter. I want to make sure this doesn’t happen to anyone else.”

The case will now be investigated by an Independent Case Examiner (ICE), who will look at the circumstances surrounding Jodey’s death and the DWP’s handling of the benefits claim.

The ICE will look at five key parts of the case against the DWP:

  • The Citizen’s Advice Bureau sent a letter to the DWP regarding Jodey’s health issues on February 15, six days before her death, but it failed to act on it until March 23.
  • Despite being made aware of her death on February 23 using the ‘tell us once’ system, the DWP issued a claim to Jodey about her Employment Support Allowance claim on February 25.
  • The DWP failed to take appropriate action to upgrade their computer systems until March 1.
  • The DWP continued to call Jodey’s phone and leave her voicemail messages until May, despite knowing of her death.
  • The department failed to respond to Mrs Dove’s letter of April 13, 2017 until June 14, 2017.

Jodey had been instructed to attend a health assessment on January 16 last year, but missed the mandatory meeting whilst being in hospital and knew nothing about the appointment.

The former shop assistant, who was forced to give up her job because of severe pain that left her on 23 pain-killing tablets a day, committed suicide on February 21, just four days before a review found she should have continued to receive disability benefits.

A message about the ruling was sent to Jodey’s mobile phone inbox after she died, despite the DWP being told about her death.

A petition demanding “Justice for Jodey” has been started on the petition website 38degrees and has already received over two thousand signatures (at the time this article was published).

Joy said: “We’ll never stop battling. The messages I get on the petition, and from people who have been in similar situations, are incredible.”

A DWP spokesperson said: “Our thoughts are with Miss Whiting’s family at this difficult time. Suicide is a very complex issue.”

People can sign the petition at: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/justice-for-jodey

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